Celebrity Docs and the Ick and Quack Factor

"Beware of Quack Doctors"
(Photo credit: Courtarro)

Today on a listserve I am active on, a health reporter from Florida wrote that she recently received an e-mail invitation from a marketing firm basically bribing her to write a blog post on Dr. Colbert. The offer was for $5 for a 100 word ‘unique content’ blog post about Dr. Colbert. The offer also included a $25 dinner certificate (Florida Blueplate special anyone?) and the “opportunity to earn commission on each and every sale you generate.” I knew about–and have fended off–blogging bribes/product placement like this, but the bribes I get are nursing school related. I hadn’t realized that physicians as ‘brands’ had gotten into this. Silly me: everything in our country seems to be for sale. Never having heard of Dr. Colbert or what he sells, I looked him up.

From his website (based in Orlando, Florida and purposefully not linked here) , Dr. Dan Colbert states he is “board certified in Family Practice and practices Anti aging and Integrative medicine.” You have to dig for that though as what first pops up on the website is “Cyber Monday Extended! 20% off! This Christmas give them the gift of health!” with a photo of the tanned, fit, blond-haired Dr. Colbert holding out a wrapped Christmas present to an adoring crowd of people all reaching for it. He sells many products including vitamins, nitric acid capsules, weight loss drops, and green coffee bean extract. As a description for each he includes dubious health claims such as: “Reduction of and sometimes complete recovery from food-related and seasonal allergies” and “Provides detoxification of heavy metals, pesticides, and other toxins that may accumulate over time.” There’s the ever so tiny * at the bottom of the page with the oddly worded disclaimer: “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.”

Dr. Colbert is the author of many books (also for sale on his website), including What Would Jesus Eat? The Ultimate Program for Eating Well, Feeling Great, Living Longer. (Proving that anything can be published in our country). Not surprisingly, he obtained his medical degree from Oral Roberts University and he holds no academic appointments. I won’t get into details here, but he has had several fines and reprimands by Florida Health/Medical Quality Assurance, the professional licensing body of Florida (available to the public on their website). And he (of course!) has appeared on the celebrity doc/ick factor Dr. Oz show. Dr. Oz of the “how many orgasms does it take to have per year to be healthy and live to old age?”  (I think the correct answer is 200 and as our year is running out, get busy!) Dr. Oz of the TV episode “Dr. Oz’s 13 miracles for 2013” that included his endorsement for red palm oil as an anti-aging remedy. Dr. Oz, a Harvard-trained Columbia University cardiothoracic surgeon who consults with psychics on his show and seems to take them seriously. Does anyone remember that Oz was a very fake wizard in a very green place with a very yellow-(gold)brick road?

Who exactly is supposed to be monitoring the professional practices of these “mediatainment” “mega-brand” physicians? (quotes from the article below).

For an excellent critical reflection article on Dr. Oz and his ilk, I highly recommend you read Michael Spector’s New Yorker article “The Operator: Is the Most Trusted Doctor in America Doing More Harm Than Good?” (Feb 4, 2013).

* I suppose I could, but will not, submit this blog post  to the “Dr. Colbert Paid Blogger Opp + More” in order to receive my $5 and $25 Florida Blueplate  special. My elderly father in Florida will have to get something else for Christmas this year. And it won’t be What Would Jesus Eat? either….

** I am aware that even negative publicity is publicity. Dr. Oz needs no publicity and I tried to minimize/eliminate direct links to Dr. Colbert in this post.

3 thoughts on “Celebrity Docs and the Ick and Quack Factor

  1. Spot on. Thank you. Why people will believe these individuals and spend their whole visit, for which they pay, arguing against evidence based information is such an intriguing piece of human nature. I accept that dialectic and yet I really struggle with working with it.

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  2. Thanks Sharon. I agree but what really gets me is that it is bona fide, credentialed, licensed physicians who not only argue against basic evidence-based medicine but who also aggressively peddle it at tremendous personal profit—and who get away with it.

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